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View Full Version : "50's" les paul wiring debunked?


walterw
03-09-2007, 12:48 AM
the received wisdom on this and other gear-type forums is that gibsons wired so-called "50's" style, with the tone pot wired to the volume through the volume pot's middle lug, will clean up better when the volume is rolled down than guitars wired "modern" style, with the tone wired in through the "input" lug, the one opposite the grounded lug, supposedly due to less loading from the tone pot. this has not been my experience, so in the tradition of esteemed poster John Phillips, i wired up a "debunker" switch to test what really happens.

i put the output of the 500k tone pot to the middle lug of a two-way mini toggle, and the two output poles of the mini-toggle went to the input (far) lug and the output (middle) lug of the 500k volume pot. this way, i could instantly switch between "50's" and "modern" setups.

i then turned the tone pot about halfway down to make it's effect obvious, and tested as follows:

with the volume all the way up, i could tell no difference, which was to be expected, since the two live lugs of the vol pot are shorted together at this point.

with the volume turned about halfway down, the difference between the two options was clear and dramatic: one way was far brighter than the other. and the kicker? once i traced the wires back to the connections, it turns out the modern wiring option was the clearer setting!

the lower the volume was turned, the more obvious the difference, as the 50's setting got dull much sooner than the modern setting. turning the tone knob all the way down also exaggerated the effect, again darkening the 50's setting much more than the modern setting.

the hard test was to hear a difference between the two settings with the tone all the way up. i thought that the modern setting was still a tiny bit brighter, but i couldn't positively rule out placebo effect at that point.

my theory is that with the tone circuit tied to the input lug modern style, when the volume is turned down, the guitar output is panned away from the pickup and from the tone pot, lessening it's effect. with the 50's circuit, however, as you pan away from the pickup with the volume pot, the tone pot is still fully connected to the output.

i tried this test with two different guitars, with the same results both times. (i didn't test the different tone pot configurations, but supposedly they don't matter since they just use two lugs of the tone pot as a variable resistor, rather than the three-lug divider network of the volume pot. maybe i'll do another test of this aspect later.)

Jef Bardsley
03-09-2007, 01:15 AM
The switch you used - if you push the toggle to the right, does it energise the right or the left outer lugs?

John Phillips
03-09-2007, 02:46 AM
This is what I find too. Actually what happens is that the two controls become much more interactive with the 50s scheme... which is probably why it was changed (from a purely technical point of view, that's a bad thing).

With the tone control up full, you do get a slightly brighter tone as you turn down the volume. This is because the resistance of the tone pot is fixed at 500K, and as you turn down the volume, the lower part of the volume pot track quickly becomes far less than this, which means that the tone pot is then seen as less of a load, proportionately.

But when the tone control is down a bit - and remember that '5' on a Log pot is one tenth of the resistance, not half, ie 50K on a 500K pot - now the tone control behaves more like an extra cap in parallel with the capacitance of the cable... which is what causes the treble loss as you turn down the volume in the first place.

At some point in between 10 and 5 on the two controls - and depending on the exact capacitance of the cable, which is almost always overlooked but is extremely important - the two effects more or less balance, but adjusting either control will change the tone.

So, if you usually leave your tone controls up full and dislike treble loss as you roll the volume down, you'll most likely want 50s wiring. If you use your tone control a lot, and want more independent operation of the two functions, you most likely want modern wiring.

GuitarsFromMars
03-09-2007, 04:14 AM
This is what I find too. Actually what happens is that the two controls become much more interactive with the 50s scheme... which is probably why it was changed (from a purely technical point of view, that's a bad thing).

With the tone control up full, you do get a slightly brighter tone as you turn down the volume. This is because the resistance of the tone pot is fixed at 500K, and as you turn down the volume, the lower part of the volume pot track quickly becomes far less than this, which means that the tone pot is then seen as less of a load, proportionately.

But when the tone control is down a bit - and remember that '5' on a Log pot is one tenth of the resistance, not half, ie 50K on a 500K pot - now the tone control behaves more like an extra cap in parallel with the capacitance of the cable... which is what causes the treble loss as you turn down the volume in the first place.

At some point in between 10 and 5 on the two controls - and depending on the exact capacitance of the cable, which is almost always overlooked but is extremely important - the two effects more or less balance, but adjusting either control will change the tone.

So, if you usually leave your tone controls up full and dislike treble loss as you roll the volume down, you'll most likely want 50s wiring. If you use your tone control a lot, and want more independent operation of the two functions, you most likely want modern wiring.

Nicely stated,John-I prefer the 50's wiring...;) call me old fashioned.
One thing I forgot,50's wiring also makes for better 'woman' tone.

Scumback Speakers
03-09-2007, 05:22 AM
Sounds to me like the original poster's pots, switch, caps, hearing or wiring was suspect.

I've gone round and round with this over 35 years of playing. I've had a 68 LP Custom since 74, which qualified for the modern wiring scheme. It got bassy as you turned down the volume below 8, regardless of the tone control setting.

Then I got the "volume control" kits put in, various cap/resistor, just resistor, etc, networks on the volume pot. They offered crystal clear tones when turned down, but sounded a bit thin, hi-fi like and sterile below 6-7.

When I finally went with the 50's style wiring, that's when the most pleasing, organic and natural guitar tone happened when I turned my guitar volume down.

Which two guitars did you try this with, walterw? What type of pots, caps, and what pickups?

walterw
03-09-2007, 04:31 PM
This is what I find too. Actually what happens is that the two controls become much more interactive with the 50s scheme... which is probably why it was changed (from a purely technical point of view, that's a bad thing).

With the tone control up full, you do get a slightly brighter tone as you turn down the volume. This is because the resistance of the tone pot is fixed at 500K, and as you turn down the volume, the lower part of the volume pot track quickly becomes far less than this, which means that the tone pot is then seen as less of a load, proportionately.

But when the tone control is down a bit - and remember that '5' on a Log pot is one tenth of the resistance, not half, ie 50K on a 500K pot - now the tone control behaves more like an extra cap in parallel with the capacitance of the cable... which is what causes the treble loss as you turn down the volume in the first place.

At some point in between 10 and 5 on the two controls - and depending on the exact capacitance of the cable, which is almost always overlooked but is extremely important - the two effects more or less balance, but adjusting either control will change the tone.

So, if you usually leave your tone controls up full and dislike treble loss as you roll the volume down, you'll most likely want 50s wiring. If you use your tone control a lot, and want more independent operation of the two functions, you most likely want modern wiring.

ok, this is where the fun starts, because the whole point of my post was my results were the opposite of what john describes! i'm going to have to try again and do it seriously, with resistance measurements and so on, to see if i missed something. i will also pay attention to what i'm plugged into, i.e., tube/solid state, buffered/unbuffered, etc., to see if that's a relevant factor.

Jef Bardsley
03-10-2007, 07:14 AM
I tried this briefly last night, and while my first impressions matched Walter's, I noticed a surprising degree of change in the taper of the volume pot with the tone turned done. The 50's wiring produced a more immediate change when turning the volume down, as well as a more gradual slope, while the modern wiring maintained it's level for quite a while before suddenly dropping. Thus, comparing the tones was not possible due to the volume differences.

I, also, have to try this again. ;)

K-man
03-10-2007, 08:14 AM
The switch you used - if you push the toggle to the right, does it energise the right or the left outer lugs?

That's a good point. Most switches will connect the opposite and middle lugs from the position the switch is in.

Mike9
03-10-2007, 09:02 AM
I use the '50s wiring as well as 500k audio taper volume pots and it works well for me.

John Phillips
03-11-2007, 04:22 AM
I tried this briefly last night, and while my first impressions matched Walter's, I noticed a surprising degree of change in the taper of the volume pot with the tone turned done. The 50's wiring produced a more immediate change when turning the volume down, as well as a more gradual slope, while the modern wiring maintained it's level for quite a while before suddenly dropping. Thus, comparing the tones was not possible due to the volume differences.
Exactly. That's why the 50s wiring is 'wrong' from an electronics point of view, because it makes the two controls interactive - when both are below full, changing either affects the setting of the other.

Which two guitars did you try this with, walterw? What type of pots, caps, and what pickups?You forgot to ask what cables :).

This is extremely important, but for some reason it always seems to be ignored for discussions like this... presumably because the cable is not physically part of the guitar. But electrically, it is - every bit as much as much as the pickups, control pots and tone caps are.

The capacitance of the cable (its only really important property, tonally) is a load on the pickups and pots, exactly like another small tone control which is permanently turned down. It's this capacitance which is the cause of the treble loss as you turn down the volume control, since it's in parallel with the lower part of the potential divider.

It's in the same position circuit-wise as the tone control in the 50s wiring, but without the series resistance of the tone pot. When you turn down the volume control, the tone control becomes progressively less important because of its series resistance (which quickly becomes much higher than that of the lower part of the volume pot) - hence why highs are retained better - but the capacitance of the cable remains the same. Consequently, how effective the 50s wiring is at retaining highs better depends on the cable. A really high-capacitance cable might actually reverse the effect, compared to a low-capacitance one.

walterw
03-12-2007, 09:22 PM
I tried this briefly last night, and while my first impressions matched Walter's, I noticed a surprising degree of change in the taper of the volume pot with the tone turned done. The 50's wiring produced a more immediate change when turning the volume down, as well as a more gradual slope, while the modern wiring maintained it's level for quite a while before suddenly dropping. Thus, comparing the tones was not possible due to the volume differences.

I, also, have to try this again. ;)

there's an old saying, "the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off!"

upon further testing, it appears that i fell into the trap that Glass Snuff adroitly avoided, namely, letting volume color my perception of tone.

with both vol and tone down somewhat, the modern setting was louder, i.e., less volume attenuation, so i leaped to the conclusion "less loss=better". unfortunately, i failed to note that this louder sound was darker, not brighter. the 50's setting made the volume pot taper drop off faster from "10", but the sound was a bit brighter on the way down.

this appeared to be true on a 70's lp deluxe i'm currently fixing with its old, awful pots (250k audio vol, 250k lin tone), with the new cts 500k audio's i replaced them with, thru 10ft of george L cable into a buffered pedal input and through to my bench amp, and thru 3ft of generic instrument cable straight into the clean input of that same amp, a peavy bravo (20 watt tube amp).

i'm the type of player who uses the guitar vol constantly to clean up my sound, and usually only uses the tone knob when the vol is all the way up. i've been happy with the behavior of my modern-wired guitars, but i will convert to the 50's style for my gigs this weekend and submit a battlefield report afterwards.

now if you will excuse me, its dinnertime, and my teriyaki crow wings with humble pie dipping sauce is ready.

fakeox
03-13-2007, 09:52 AM
Great thread! Would the Kinman bypass thing work with the 50s wiring?

Pearly Gator
03-13-2007, 10:12 AM
My guitars all have the tone circuit modified to be wired to the volume pot wiper lug. I find many more "voices" to be available by blending the controls. Electronically incorrect? Okay. However I dig the sonic mojo.


GuitarsFromMars (http://www.thegearpage.net/board/member.php?u=3889):
Nicely stated,John-I prefer the 50's wiring...;) call me old fashioned.
One thing I forgot,50's wiring also makes for better 'woman' tone.

Yeah, what he said. :dude

skylabfilmpop
03-13-2007, 12:07 PM
How significant are the tone pot lugs in all this? 50's and 60's wiring seem to have different schemes for this as I have seen. 50's having the output of the tone pot (middle lug) grounded and the tone cap connected to the wiper wheras the 60's and modern employ a grounded wiper aand connect the tone cap to the output. Has anyone ever consideded the switch to be the result of streamlining production. In the modern scheme the volume and tone pots are prepped identically with the wiper (third lug) grounded. Seems to me the existence of two seperate grounding scenarios renders these parts non-interchangeable and creates a production slow down if they run out of say 50's style tone pots.

GuitslingerTim
03-13-2007, 01:37 PM
How significant are the tone pot lugs in all this? 50's and 60's wiring seem to have different schemes for this as I have seen. 50's having the output of the tone pot (middle lug) grounded and the tone cap connected to the wiper wheras the 60's and modern employ a grounded wiper aand connect the tone cap to the output. Has anyone ever consideded the switch to be the result of streamlining production. In the modern scheme the volume and tone pots are prepped identically with the wiper (third lug) grounded. Seems to me the existence of two seperate grounding scenarios renders these parts non-interchangeable and creates a production slow down if they run out of say 50's style tone pots.

Your questions were answered in a previous response.

Jef Bardsley
03-13-2007, 02:41 PM
Great thread! Would the Kinman bypass thing work with the 50s wiring?
It will still work, though you might want to change the values. Most proponents of 50's wiring consider it unnecessary, however, and offer the 50's schematic as an alternative to 'treble bypass' circuits.

Skylab, the tone lugs make no difference, and you might be right - the change is the result of production engineering. However, there also concurrent changes in pot values to consider. In the 70's Gibson started using 300K pots.

I have more to say about this, after I do a few more tests, but right now I have to go run a Marshall/Vox clinic.

Jarick
03-13-2007, 02:47 PM
So in short, if I almost never touch the tone control, and don't want my tone to get too dark when rolling down the volume, I'd prefer 50's wiring?

Lex Luthier
03-13-2007, 05:49 PM
I posted about 50's style wiring over a decade ago on the old Gibson forum, I think some people at the time thought I was smoking crack when I said it actually made an audible difference.

Jef Bardsley
03-14-2007, 07:54 PM
Well, as those of you who are also on the Les Paul Forum will understand, I'm about to commit heresy. I may as well get it over with.

The '50s wiring sucks!!

I've spent a total of about 9 hours, 3 amps, three guitars, 7 pots, uncounted capacitors, several pedals, and 5 cords testing this over the last several days and in my not so humble opinion, the much revered '50s wiring is a big tone suck. Yes, it has more highs. But it does so at the expense of the mids and bass, and that's not a good trade-off. It also screws up the volume pot taper and causes the pots to be interactive.

To be clear, there often isn't any difference between the old and the new configurations. With either pot on 10, they are the same. And, you have to turn the tone down, way down below 5, before any difference appears. So, given the number of players that leave things on 10, I suspect many, many proponents of the '50s wiring have never actually heard a difference at all. They're just "hearing" what they were told they would hear.

When the difference does appear, the most noticeable thing is, as soon as you roll back the volume there's a sudden drop in level. Through a clean amp, if you were cutting through before, you're suddenly lost in the mix. And, as you roll the volume further down, the sound gets weaker and weaker. It has no body. If you're playing a Les Paul, the tone approaches that of a Telecaster. A Tele starts sounding like a mosquito. The effect is so dramatic that, at cutoff, when the sound almost goes away, the tone control has practically no effect at all.

Now, as I posted several days ago, there is the consideration that 'louder is better', and I did consider that. It's possible to equalize the outputs when comparing them, and my comments above about tone reflect some of those tests. However, standing there on stage, you have no such EQ. With '50s wiring you're losing a lot of volume and tone compared to the modern wiring scheme. Unless you leave either control on 10. In that case, it's just cosmetic. ;)

GuitarsFromMars
03-14-2007, 08:37 PM
Well, as those of you who are also on the Les Paul Forum will understand, I'm about to commit heresy. I may as well get it over with.

The '50s wiring sucks!!

I've spent a total of about 9 hours, 3 amps, three guitars, 7 pots, uncounted capacitors, several pedals, and 5 cords testing this over the last several days and in my not so humble opinion, the much revered '50s wiring is a big tone suck. Yes, it has more highs. But it does so at the expense of the mids and bass, and that's not a good trade-off. It also screws up the volume pot taper and causes the pots to be interactive.

To be clear, there often isn't any difference between the old and the new configurations. With either pot on 10, they are the same. And, you have to turn the tone down, way down below 5, before any difference appears. So, given the number of players that leave things on 10, I suspect many, many proponents of the '50s wiring have never actually heard a difference at all. They're just "hearing" what they were told they would hear.

When the difference does appear, the most noticeable thing is, as soon as you roll back the volume there's a sudden drop in level. Through a clean amp, if you were cutting through before, you're suddenly lost in the mix. And, as you roll the volume further down, the sound gets weaker and weaker. It has no body. If you're playing a Les Paul, the tone approaches that of a Telecaster. A Tele starts sounding like a mosquito. The effect is so dramatic that, at cutoff, when the sound almost goes away, the tone control has practically no effect at all.

Now, as I posted several days ago, there is the consideration that 'louder is better', and I did consider that. It's possible to equalize the outputs when comparing them, and my comments above about tone reflect some of those tests. However, standing there on stage, you have no such EQ. With '50s wiring you're losing a lot of volume and tone compared to the modern wiring scheme. Unless you leave either control on 10. In that case, it's just cosmetic. ;)

I would venture that you might just not be hearin' too well-several thousand vintage and not so vintage Les Paul owners can't ALL be wrong,son...

:jo

57special
03-14-2007, 09:08 PM
well, I've got 6 LP type guitars to wire up in the next month. You've certainly given me food for thought. I must say that my 57 Specials controls always seem to work intuitively compared to modern type LP's.

Jef Bardsley
03-14-2007, 10:44 PM
I would venture that you might just not be hearin' too well-several thousand vintage and not so vintage Les Paul owners can't ALL be wrong,son...

:jo
Actually, they can. Would you like me to trot out examples of widespread hoaxes in the audio field, and experts who have been duped?

However, I would venture you just might not be thinking too clearly. ;)

You have a list of all the vintage owners who have tried the modern wiring, do you? Or are you just assuming they tried it? Because if they haven't tried it, and tried it with rigor, they can't have a valid opinion, can they?

Don't forget, I have some old wood myself. I grew up with a goldtop. I'm rather outspoken in my belief in the value of old growth mahogany. And long tenons. But the sound quality of a 'Burst in no way validates the wiring schema contained within. Nor can anything else sound like a 'Burst. My point is, for anything but a 'Burst, the '50s wiring is likely to detract from the sound quality of the guitar in the small, seldom used, control range where there is actually a difference.

We both know a 'Burst would still sound good with Indonesian pickups. :dude

GuitarsFromMars
03-14-2007, 11:07 PM
Actually, they can. Would you like me to trot out examples of widespread hoaxes in the audio field, and experts who have been duped?

However, I would venture you just might not be thinking too clearly. ;)

You have a list of all the vintage owners who have tried the modern wiring, do you? Or are you just assuming they tried it? Because if they haven't tried it, and tried it with rigor, they can't have a valid opinion, can they?

Don't forget, I have some old wood myself. I grew up with a goldtop. I'm rather outspoken in my belief in the value of old growth mahogany. And long tenons. But the sound quality of a 'Burst in no way validates the wiring schema contained within. Nor can anything else sound like a 'Burst. My point is, for anything but a 'Burst, the '50s wiring is likely to detract from the sound quality of the guitar in the small, seldom used, control range where there is actually a difference.

We both know a 'Burst would still sound good with Indonesian pickups. :dude

What....have you been smoking??:jo Do you and I know each other from another forum?

Jef Bardsley
03-15-2007, 12:06 AM
Do you and I know each other from another forum?
Yep.

http://www.lespaulforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=74279

And notice how gently I handled this topic. But notice, all along I've been saying the same thing.

I knew when I posted this there would be many who would be upset. '50's wiring is something of a sacred cow. People believe in it. For some, the fact that it is "vintage correct" outweighs any other considerations. And for many, with their knobs always on 10, there's really no problem.

I'll be happy to discuss the differing opinions of those who have tried both ways in an A/B setting.

Be warned, however, from this point on I reserve the right to make any who have nothing more to say than "You've got to be wrong, because I must be right!" look like complete idiots. Sorry, but people hear what they want to hear. That's a proven fact. There are good reasons for all the rigmarole involved in double-blind testing.

Please, read what I wrote very carefully. There's a very good chance you never play anything with the volume rolled off and the tone down below 5. In that case, there is no difference between the wiring schemes, and an A/B comparison, or a quick look at Clorenzo's graphs, should convince you of that.

http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=165655

(And no, these aren't graphs of modern vs '50's wiring, they area graphs showing the cap makes no difference above 5. Ergo, the '50's wiring makes no difference.)

ChickenLover
03-15-2007, 08:56 AM
I've gone back and forth and I like the taper better with modern wiring. But with me the volume is usually on 10 or close to it and the tone is usually on 10 for the neck and 6-1/2 to 7-1/2 for the bridge.

I would venture that you might just not be hearin' too well-several thousand vintage and not so vintage Les Paul owners can't ALL be wrong,son...
The world was once flat and the sun was once the center of the universe...and people still argue over global warming.

Lolaviola
03-18-2007, 07:02 PM
I have a Les Paul Custom that I've played for years as my main guitar. On a lark I changed it over to 50s wiring.
I was impressed with the tone becoming a little more open-sounding, especially in middle position. Think Duane Allman. I could see how the vintage sound was appealing and useful.
In the end I want back, because I had gotten used to the independent control with modern wiring.
Yes, I use my tone controls a lot, and I like to know that 5 on the tone was going to sound a certain way, reguardless of the other settings.
I also took out my volume kit, for similar reasons. You grow accostomed to how things work. There is no better, best, sucks. C'mon.

Jef Bardsley
03-18-2007, 09:55 PM
I have a Les Paul Custom that I've played for years as my main guitar. On a lark I changed it over to 50s wiring.
I was impressed with the tone becoming a little more open-sounding, especially in middle position. Think Duane Allman. I could see how the vintage sound was appealing and useful.
In the end I want back, because I had gotten used to the independent control with modern wiring.
Yes, I use my tone controls a lot, and I like to know that 5 on the tone was going to sound a certain way, reguardless of the other settings.
I also took out my volume kit, for similar reasons. You grow accostomed to how things work. There is no better, best, sucks. C'mon.
First of all, kudos on your choices. You've got an ear and a brain.

In most situations, there's no difference between the '50's wiring and modern, yet people ascribe all sorts of mojo to it - less treble loss, better woman tone, etc. If you tell them the modern wiring with a .01 cap will sound even better, they won't try it because they've been convinced the '50's wiring is magic. That sucks.

GuitarsFromMars
03-18-2007, 10:11 PM
First of all, kudos on your choices. You've got an ear and a brain.

In most situations, there's no difference between the '50's wiring and modern, yet people ascribe all sorts of mojo to it - less treble loss, better woman tone, etc. If you tell them the modern wiring with a .01 cap will sound even better, they won't try it because they've been convinced the '50's wiring is magic. That sucks.

I never said or used the word 'magic'.I am one of those people who generally plays with both volumes wide open.I also believe that it sounds better as do a lot of people.I would never say you aren't entitled to your opinion.Like I said earlier in this post,maybe I'm old fashioned.We can agree to disagree on BOTH forums GS....I used the stock wiring on my Historic the first year I owned it,on the gig,and changed things one at a time,after that,because by and large,I'm a sceptic.

:cool:

walterw
03-19-2007, 01:36 AM
well, i didn't get to play my gigs with 50's wiring this weekend. my paul ('02 58 RI) has a custom wiring scheme that precludes it, consisting of a master volume, two tones, and the pickup selector rebuilt into a DPDT that switches both tone pots out in the middle setting (extra sparkly, and cleans up better than any stock paul) . to get those tone pots to connect to the middle lug of my vol pot while still being bypassed in the middle pickup setting, i think i would need to add another two, maybe even 4 leaves to the switchcraft toggle, which is kind of silly and probably wouldn't fit.

i converted my tele ('01 62 RI), and forgot to bring it to the gig.

by the way, i just worked on a bone-stock 60's 335 (bigsby, nylon saddles, square inlays, the whole bit) with original "50's" wiring!

korus
03-20-2007, 12:05 PM
First of all, kudos on your choices. You've got an ear and a brain.

In most situations, there's no difference between the '50's wiring and modern, yet people ascribe all sorts of mojo to it - less treble loss, better woman tone, etc. If you tell them the modern wiring with a .01 cap will sound even better, they won't try it because they've been convinced the '50's wiring is magic. That sucks.

.01 cap is the way to go, even old school jazz is served well.

Fully agreed on your's 50's wiring findings. Mine almost exactly the same, certainly, only after a/b testing last week or so (2 guitars, w/wo treble bleed, toggles & p/p pots, 5 diff cables, 2 amps etc, etc). (" ..but, you know, you could just use lower res to flatten the taper curve for that sudden drop in volume ..." - just kidding !)

The only magic is in the player's ability.

skylabfilmpop
03-20-2007, 08:16 PM
Just to jump in I just experimented with my 1995 r7 goldtop and found the 50's wiring slightly brighter then the 60's or modern wiring. I also found that the taper was not 100% ideal for me and that the treble was only retained through the first third or so of the travel of the volune knob, after that it got dark. So if you use a dirty to very clean tone range controlled by your volume knob you may not be so happy with 50's wiring. It did however noticibly open up the pickup with the volume full up. I also noticed that a treble bleed with the 50's circuit created a volume drop when the tone rolled off, and that the treble bleed (150k/1000pf) did noticably brighten the pickup with the volume full up. I am going to try a few different resistor values to lessen the effect of the treble bleed and see the results

walterw
03-20-2007, 08:41 PM
Just to jump in I just experimented with my 1995 r7 goldtop and found the 50's wiring slightly brighter then the 60's or modern wiring. I also found that the taper was not 100% ideal for me and that the treble was only retained through the first third or so of the travel of the volune knob, after that it got dark. So if you use a dirty to very clean tone range controlled by your volume knob you may not be so happy with 50's wiring. It did however noticibly open up the pickup with the volume full up. I also noticed that a treble bleed with the 50's circuit created a volume drop when the tone rolled off, and that the treble bleed (150k/1000pf) did noticably brighten the pickup with the volume full up. I am going to try a few different resistor values to lessen the effect of the treble bleed and see the results

was that the first third from off or from full up? also, that 1000pF is kinda large for a treble bleed cap--even with the series resistor to tame it, i would think 680 or even 330 pF might be more pleasing. (although, to be fair, that's because my marshall hates the sound of any treble bleed cap besides the one on it's own vol control!)

korus
03-21-2007, 01:20 AM
...and that the treble bleed (150k/1000pf) did noticably brighten the pickup with the volume full up. I am going to try a few different resistor values to lessen the effect of the treble bleed and see the results

1. in treble bleed, both Kinman(ser) or Duncan(par) res value mostly alters the pot's taper, cap value mostly alters the treble bleed

2. when vol is full up, treble bleed is out of circuit - no effect (record both then a/b listen recorded); to brighten pickup with vol full up:

(a) use greater values pots for vol/tone/both
(b) use "no load" pots for vol/tone/both
(c) override pots vo/tone/both with a switch
(d) use shorter and/or better guitar cable(s) (less capacitance) between guitar and amp
(e) use lighter pick, sharper pick, pick strings at greater angle, pick closer to the bridge
(f) set amp eq for neck pickup NOT bridge then roll some highs with tone pot for bridge pickup ( if you have 2 tone pots)
(e) change the pickup
(f) change the guitar

YMMV,IMO,2c etc.

GuitarsFromMars
03-21-2007, 04:52 AM
.01 cap is the way to go, even old school jazz is served well.

Fully agreed on your's 50's wiring findings. Mine almost exactly the same, certainly, only after a/b testing last week or so (2 guitars, w/wo treble bleed, toggles & p/p pots, 5 diff cables, 2 amps etc, etc). (" ..but, you know, you could just use lower res to flatten the taper curve for that sudden drop in volume ..." - just kidding !)

The only magic is in the player's ability.

I use a .01uf on the neck pickup,and a .033uf on the bridge pickup.Both 50's era Sprague BumbleBees...

skylabfilmpop
03-23-2007, 02:26 PM
Well I am sure the amp does factor. I played a Marshall (JCM 800) on a backline for an audition once and with the presence and treble all the way off it was still nightmarishly ice picky. 1000 pf (.001 f) is a pretty de riguer treble bleed value, I think the one called for by duncan and kinman, fralin asks for a 2500 pf (.0022, or 0025 f depending what you can get your hands on) and a 250k resistor. The resistor in my understanding doesn't effect the taper but rather allows the cap and its effect to remain present in the circuit, as without the resistor the cap will no longer be " seen" or hear beyond five on the volume knob. The resistor value functions inversely toward the end of this effect: a larger resistor yields a more subtle effect and a smaller one a more pronounced effect. BTW, with scepticism I compared the treble bleed circuit (1000pf and 150k resistor) in and out of the same guitar and found the coloration to remain with the volume full up to my suprise. This does however diminish with a larger say 250k resistor which made the entire treble bleed circuit more subtle, including at full volume. If I were to employ the treble bleed all around I would opt at least on the lead pickup to use a slightly larger resistor (200k or so) to make the effect more subtle So here's where I got with it, 50's wiring debunked debunked: For my lead pickup I like the 50's wiring alot. It does not afford you a bright tone if you turn down to 3 on your volume but the tone is markedly different as the tone cap does not color the pickup as it would in the modern wiring. It feels different too as if the pickup has less load on it. And when you turn it down some of the flavor of the cap (sprague black beauty in my case) seems to come out. Very cool I think. I did however opt to leave the treble bleed (1000 pf 100k resistor) and modern circuit on my 2 Les pauls' neck pickups as it affords some exxagerated brightness as you turn down. There may be some that would not benefit from this if they use both pickups alot but for some reason that has never been part of my pallet. So to put a nail in it consider the wiring options as just that a good method to dial in a pickup that might ask for a little more or less brightness, to get your guitar t a place where it works for your needs.

Jef Bardsley
03-23-2007, 08:36 PM
For my lead pickup I like the 50's wiring alot. It does not afford you a bright tone if you turn down to 3 on your volume but the tone is markedly different as the tone cap does not color the pickup as it would in the modern wiring. It feels different too as if the pickup has less load on it. And when you turn it down some of the flavor of the cap seems to come out.(bolded by me -GS)

You've got me confused, here. ;)

ssimon64
03-23-2007, 10:04 PM
I hear tell that some of the original bursts had "modern wiring" anyway

impactblue
12-09-2008, 03:45 PM
Just did the 50s wiring mod on my les paul.....totally blown away.......all the tones in the world under that little volume knob!

Really dont know why it aint wired like that by default

bluesjunior
12-09-2008, 04:52 PM
Why not just compromise and have the 50's wiring on the tone controls with independent volume controls?.

walterw
12-09-2008, 11:30 PM
Why not just compromise and have the 50's wiring on the tone controls with independent volume controls?.
that's beating a dark horse of another color.

like has been often posted around here, the "independent" wiring (pickups go to the middle lugs instead of the input lugs) sacrifices much in the way of tone and taper just for the dubious "benefit" of turning one volume all the way off with the switch in the middle and not losing the other pickup.

plus, now the pickups will bleed through a little even when turned all the way down.

besides, if both the tone pot and the pickup are tied to the middle lug, you're back to "modern" instead of "'50s" anyway.

fakeox
01-21-2010, 02:27 AM
What would happen if you built a guitar cord out out of xlr cable with & switch between the braid & the 2nd wire?

HammyD
01-21-2010, 06:34 AM
I was wondering, what if any, the output of the pickups play in the equation?

I had a 53 Les Paul which needed new pots as the original were long gone. CTS, Orange Drops, 50's wiring, Through a '67 Pro Reverb using a Fulltone cable, you could use both pickups, roll the volume down (adjust the volume on the amp) and it would take ont he tonal characteristics of a '50's 175. It sounded like a ply top jazz guitar from the 50's. Now, the pickups were very, very weak which may have factored into the equation.

Phil Divine
01-21-2010, 07:36 AM
I have found myself on more than one topic, doing an exaustive A/B of something, and being told that I don't hear what I hear. I wish the OP or someone would do some quick clips of one vs the other. Especially with a switch wired in, this should be very easy to do. Then he could look forward to everyone questioning the conditions under which he conducted the test!

In all seriousness, it would be nice to hear some of these theories/findings in action. Are there no clips out there?

GuitslingerTim
01-21-2010, 09:56 AM
I have found myself on more than one topic, doing an exaustive A/B of something, and being told that I don't hear what I hear. I wish the OP or someone would do some quick clips of one vs the other. Especially with a switch wired in, this should be very easy to do. Then he could look forward to everyone questioning the conditions under which he conducted the test!

In all seriousness, it would be nice to hear some of these theories/findings in action. Are there no clips out there?

I doubt sound clips will reveal much, the difference in the tones of the two wiring schemes is subtle within a useful range. What is different is the way the controls behave. With modern wiring a change in volume from 10-7 will produce a darker, but louder tone than the same volume reduction with 50's wiring. What I dislike about 50's wiring with audio pots is the volume control has a useful range from 8-10, and that's about it. Once the volume control is set lower than 8 the volume drops substantially.

The tone controls are useful throughout most of the taper, but serve really only to reduce the inherent brightness that is a product of 50's wiring. On the upside there is some magic hidden is the slightest adjustments of the volume and tone controls, but it's all a bit tedious due to the range of the controls being so limited as well as interactive.

Keep in mind my tests have been conducted with Dimarzio audio pots designed for guitar; I read somewhere that Gibson used linear taper pots in the 50's, which might make a world of difference to the characteristics of 50's wiring.

Phil Divine
01-21-2010, 12:12 PM
So, you can only hear the difference first hand, but not recorded? Wouldn't that mean there's no difference to anyone by you? They sound the same, just don't behave the same? That may make perfect sense. But it won't address the "lost in the mix" issues and live application comments. I don't think?

My noodle is baking, trying to wrap my head around why sound clips won't illustrate a very common theory on sound.

Scumback Speakers
01-21-2010, 12:43 PM
I wire up all my guitars with the 50's wiring. The one time it didn't work, I had reversed the wires from the toggle switch and pickup to their correct positions on the volume pot.

Result was the tone was fine on 10, but anything below 9 got muddy and crappy.

Then I took it to my guitar tech who put a multi meter on it, told me where I screwed up, we switched the wires on the respective volume pot lugs and the tone was back when turned down.

I think that's one potential problem with this, not marking your wires from the toggle and pickup correctly before resoldering in new pots, caps, etc.

And since I did it wrong...it's a good bet some others have, too.

Dana Olsen
01-21-2010, 01:12 PM
No Phil, what it means is that the difference between the two wiring styles is subtle, and hard to hear through an mp3 clip. In person, the fidelity is greater and more obvious.

The feel of the way the controls work in modern wiring v 50's wiring is more obvious, but it's not a recordable thing. This is really more about how you like your vol and tone controls to work as you the player operate them - more about how much treble loss you want to hear when you grab the vol knob on the guitar and turn it down.

Thanks, Dana O.
So, you can only hear the difference first hand, but not recorded? Wouldn't that mean there's no difference to anyone by you? They sound the same, just don't behave the same? That may make perfect sense. But it won't address the "lost in the mix" issues and live application comments. I don't think?

My noodle is baking, trying to wrap my head around why sound clips won't illustrate a very common theory on sound.

walterw
01-21-2010, 06:25 PM
wow, my old thread, back from the grave!

as an aside, jazz basses are by nature wired "'50s style", as are explorers or anything else with two volumes and one tone.

sure enough, if you back the tone knob down on a jazz bass, the level drops way faster when turning down either volume knob.

there's even a school of jazz bass playing where both volumes are kept down a little, just so that the tone pot is somewhat isolated from the pickups.

Phil Divine
01-21-2010, 10:10 PM
No Phil, what it means is that the difference between the two wiring styles is subtle, and hard to hear through an mp3 clip. In person, the fidelity is greater and more obvious.

The feel of the way the controls work in modern wiring v 50's wiring is more obvious, but it's not a recordable thing. This is really more about how you like your vol and tone controls to work as you the player operate them - more about how much treble loss you want to hear when you grab the vol knob on the guitar and turn it down.

Thanks, Dana O.


I think we are heading down the same path really. It doesn't sound different, it just feels different. Makes sense.

But you'd be surprised at the number of people who say it sounds different.

Scumback Speakers
01-21-2010, 10:14 PM
I think we are heading down the same path really. It doesn't sound different, it just feels different. Makes sense.

But you'd be surprised at the number of people who say it sounds different.
You've misunderstood Dana's post. It does feel and sound different IN PERSON, not in an mp3 file.

In person, the fidelity is greater and more obvious.

The feel of the way the controls work in modern wiring v 50's wiring is more obvious, but it's not a recordable thing.

Phil Divine
01-22-2010, 09:19 AM
I didn't really misunderstand. I was forcing the argument to take a side. If you can't hear the difference, recorded in seclusion, it's not much of a difference. It can't be a big and a little difference.

However, it is reasonable to expect that it behaves much differently. But even this could be illustrated pretty quickly with a youtube video. If not, again, not much to get worked up over.

Now my SG is wired push/pull on the neck volume, for series/parallel, and the magnet is flipped for out of phase in the middle. It behaves just silly, in some positions. I'll have to check how it's wired, and try both methods the next time I am in there. It would be really easy for me to show how messed up it is though, as it goes from off to full on in a very small sweep in some positions. Unfortunately, I don't have a camcorder right now.

Scumback Speakers
01-22-2010, 10:06 AM
Ok, but 50's wiring ain't going to work in your SG since it is based on standard pickups without four conductor wiring/splitting, etc. so it's really a moot point unless you have regular two conductor old style humbuckers.

Phil Divine
01-22-2010, 11:56 AM
Really? Why? And if the answer is too complicated for me, don't sweat it. I believe what you are saying to be true, I just didn't know that. My bridge is a standard old 2 wire one, but I added 2 wires to the neck.

walterw
01-22-2010, 11:59 AM
Ok, but 50's wiring ain't going to work in your SG since it is based on standard pickups without four conductor wiring/splitting, etc. so it's really a moot point unless you have regular two conductor old style humbuckers.
sure it will, it's just the tone hooked up to the volume pot's switch connection rather than its pickup connection. the other stuff has no bearing.

Dana Olsen
01-22-2010, 04:10 PM
Hey Phil -

There's actually a clear audible difference between the two wiring styles. Of course, there's no difference at all when everything's turned up to 10, but the controls work differently independently, and interact differently in '50's wiring compared modern wiring.

Of course, it's hard to hear in an mp3 - you really have to have your hand on the guitar's vol knob and tone knob before you feel that "Oh, NOW I GET IT!" moment.

It's perhaps arguable that it's hard to hear once the drummer starts up too, but if your band isn't loud, you can still hear the difference live.

Thanks, Dana O.

Phil Divine
01-22-2010, 08:29 PM
It sounds to me as though there is no place you can get with 50s, that you can't get with modern. It's all about the ride. Pretty accurate?

I will have to check mine to see which it is. I'm pretty sure that it's 50s, but it's been a while.

Scumback Speakers
01-22-2010, 08:34 PM
It sounds to me as though there is no place you can get with 50s, that you can't get with modern. It's all about the ride. Pretty accurate?

No, that's not accurate. You'll have to have the two wiring schemes side by side and try them to understand I guess.

Phil Divine
01-22-2010, 11:31 PM
Yes. I think you are right. I keep getting lost in this one. It sounds like they are both the same at 10 and 0, so I don't get it. They're different, but you can't hear it, only feel it. It won't show up in a recorded medium. But they are very different. You guys are killing me!!!

I am going to have to roll up the sleeves and get in there. There goes my Saturday.

walterw
01-22-2010, 11:35 PM
I am going to have to roll up the sleeves and get in there. There goes my Saturday.
takes 10 minutes.

you don't need to change anything on the tone pot side, all you have to do is unhook the lead that's going to the volume pot's "input" lug with the pickup and re-attach it to the "output" lug with the switch.

Scumback Speakers
01-23-2010, 12:39 AM
That's assuming the tone pot is wired correctly already, though. I've seen people with "modern" wiring with the cap wired to the wrong tone pot lug, too.

walterw
01-23-2010, 12:43 AM
i don't think that matters. the tone pot is just an adjustable series resistor, so it doesn't matter which of the two "active" lugs the cap is attached to.

jmadill
01-25-2010, 08:35 PM
In my own personal experience, I prefer the 50s wiring. From what I understand, the biggest difference ELECTRONICALLY is where the capacitor is connected.

The following is a comment by ex-Les Paul Forum member 'Lewguitar' from a thread on the Les Paul Forum regarding this mod and diagram:

Here's why this "mod" works:

In (modern wiring) the tone cap is connected to the pickup itself before the output of the pickup passes through the volume pot.

This means that the treble loss associated with the tone control is taken from the FULL OUTPUT of the pickup.

In (50s wiring) the tone cap is connected to the output of the volume pot and the treble loss associated with the tone control is taken AFTER THE VOLUME POT has altered the output of the pickup.

So if we pick some arbitrary (and incorrect!) numbers just to paint a picture:

Before the volume control the pickup is at 100% output

After the volume control the pickup is at 90% output.

The tone control, even when on "10", reduces the treble by 5%.

So -5% of 90% output is less than -5% of 100% output.

That's one reason this mod works and seems to retain the treble.

Jef Bardsley
01-25-2010, 09:20 PM
That makes no sense at all. -5% of the signal is 95% of the signal, regardless of how big the signal is.

I don't hear any less treble loss with the '50s wiring. I do hear a sudden drop on the volume control that makes mixing the two pickups near impossible if the tone is turned down. And if the volume is turned down, the tone control starts acting like a volume control.

It seems to me the supposed benefit of the '50s wiring is imaginary, and the useful range both controls is severely limited. One of the controls has to be on ten or you get serious tone suckage.

walterw
01-25-2010, 09:30 PM
i hear this sorta scooped out midrange when the tone is down a bit and you drop the volume.

yes it makes the volume drop way faster, or to put it the opposite way, when the volume is down a bit, dropping the tone down makes the overall volume drop instead.

don't like it at all.

HammyD
01-25-2010, 11:08 PM
Here's a question! How many are trying the 50's wiring with humbuckers and how many with p90's?

I had the 50's wiring config installed in a '53 Les Paul using cts/orange drops and I found it very useful. But I had to adjust the amp to suit. It took some time but I was able to get warmth and clarity, but not what many people associate with p90's. To me it sound more like a 50's 175 but with this wonderful sustain. Almost piano like in the quality, but it took a very light touch.

Maybe when Les Paul's started coming with humbuckers they moved away and with good reason. Could it be the configuration is better suited to single coil pickups?

Keyser Soze
01-26-2010, 07:05 AM
Here's a question! How many are trying the 50's wiring with humbuckers and how many with p90's?

...Could it be the configuration is better suited to single coil pickups?

Maybe. Possibly. Give it a try and find out.

Sorry to sound flip, but there is no one answer. The two circuits are different, but the bounds of both are equal. Meaning that at the limits of adjustment both will perform the same, but at many points in between the range of adjustments their behaviors can be quite different.

As mentioned, the cable matters, it brings its own capacitance to the game. But so does any given pickup. It too has capacitance and resistance and these get added into the actual performance of the circuit.

After you add it all up you also must also consider your own preferences. If the region of highest component interactivity is in a tonal region where you do not typically play then the differences between the two circuits may be moot. If the performance of the two circuits diverge wildly in your given region of operation then it is quite likely you will have a preference for one over the other. Which one is which depends entirely on you.

So there is no easier or more reliable method for determining whether any of this matters to you than by trying each configuration out for yourself.

This really boils down to a 'less filling/tastes great' debate. One where there is no right answer except your own, and even then it only applies to yourself.

/rant off

Scumback Speakers
01-26-2010, 08:27 AM
i don't think that matters. the tone pot is just an adjustable series resistor, so it doesn't matter which of the two "active" lugs the cap is attached to.

Not in my experience, Walter. I have my Keebler wired 50's style.

The cap should be wired from the volume pot middle lug to the tone pot's far left (or 1st from L-R) lug.

Below is a picture of my 60 LP wiring harness in my Keebler LP replica with 50's wiring. The pots are Centralab 500k models with Sprague .022 caps (Black Beauty caps, same as Bumble Bees without the painted color bands on the cap). This shows how the wiring should be done pretty clearly. As you can see, the cap solder is untouched on the tone pot.

http://www.southbayampworks.com/keebler/50wiring.jpg

mistercoffee1
01-26-2010, 10:30 AM
Not in my experience, Walter. I have my Keebler wired 50's style.

The cap should be wired from the volume pot middle lug to the tone pot's far left (or 1st from L-R) lug.

Below is a picture of my 60 LP wiring harness in my Keebler LP replica with 50's wiring. The pots are Centralab 500k models with Sprague .022 caps (Black Beauty caps, same as Bumble Bees without the painted color bands on the cap). This shows how the wiring should be done pretty clearly. As you can see, the cap solder is untouched on the tone pot.

http://www.southbayampworks.com/keebler/50wiring.jpg

I've wondered this myself. Could you explain how or why it matters on the tone pot's lug? What difference have you experienced?

walterw
01-26-2010, 10:34 AM
my impression was that the cap got attached to one tone pot lug or the other based on space considerations, but it didn't affect the circuit. how is having the series resistance in front of the cap any different to having it after?

(edit: it's not even that; the cap is in front of a 500k variable resistor to ground in either version, so having the cap on the middle vs. the outside tone pot lug can't make a difference.)

Jef Bardsley
01-26-2010, 04:31 PM
After you add it all up you also must also consider your own preferences. If the region of highest component interactivity is in a tonal region where you do not typically play then the differences between the two circuits may be moot. If the performance of the two circuits diverge wildly in your given region of operation then it is quite likely you will have a preference for one over the other. Which one is which depends entirely on you.
Well said.

Jef Bardsley
01-27-2010, 08:07 PM
The two circuits are different, but the bounds of both are equal. Meaning that at the limits of adjustment both will perform the same, but at many points in between the range of adjustments their behaviors can be quite different.
Actually, I just tested again with an A/B switch, and I didn't find that to be true. With the volume rolled down and the tone rolled off, I can get a nice, horny, woman tone with the modern wiring, but switching to the '50s configuration made the tone wimpy and anorexic. Raising the volume helped some, but at no point did the 50's wiring have the authority of the modern.

More to the point, with the tone on "10", I could hear no difference between the two as I rolled the volume down. The efficacy of recommending this as an alternative to a treble bypass seems to rely on the power of suggestion.

(a side effect that I attribute to the yards of test leads in my guitars was that the '50s wiring made more noise when I took my hands off the strings to throw the switch. If that's actually a common occurrence, I suppose there's the possibility that users of the 50's wiring hear more hiss and assume there's more treble in the notes.)

Oh, I tested with both a Les Paul and a Tele, so it's not a humbucker/single coil thing.

walterw
01-27-2010, 08:15 PM
With the volume rolled down and the tone rolled off, I can get a nice, horny, woman tone with the modern wiring, but switching to the '50s configuration made the tone wimpy and anorexic.
and after all, what could be better than a horny woman tone?

Scumback Speakers
01-27-2010, 08:27 PM
I've wondered this myself. Could you explain how or why it matters on the tone pot's lug? What difference have you experienced?

my impression was that the cap got attached to one tone pot lug or the other based on space considerations, but it didn't affect the circuit. how is having the series resistance in front of the cap any different to having it after?

I'll be the first to tell you that I don't get into, nor do I even feign to understand the electrical subtleties of guitar wiring.

What I do understand is the difference in the tone I get with the pictured wiring diagram above.

1) I roll off the volume on my guitar for cleans. When I roll off the volume I want it to clean up nicely, without getting brittle or too trebly, and still have a nice round bass tone that's not boomy.

2) When I twist the volume to 10, of course, I want the gain and thump back for a solo or distorted chords, etc.

The modern wiring, ala my 68 LP Custom, got very dark as soon as I rolled of the volume of either pickup, even with the tone set on 10. That was a noticeable difference, I might add, making the guitar unsuitable for live playing.

When I got the guitar rewired 50's style, everything worked great. So I just stuck with what worked.

I know...there's probably a whole "theory" or "electrical reason" behind it, but I'm not that well versed in it, so I won't even pretend to tell you why. I just use what works for me.

As always, we all hear things a little differently, your pots might be a different value, I use old Sprague Bumble Bee or Black Beauty caps, I may have a better ground from my tailpiece, and my tonal time machine could be faulty and needing repair... but I sure get a shitload of compliments on my tone.

Go figure!

walterw
01-27-2010, 11:11 PM
wait, you're just describing the "50s vs. modern" thing that's the whole point of this thread. my assertion is that the tone pot side of it doesn't matter, only the volume pot side.

moving the cap fom the input lug to the middle lug of the volume changes things in the way you describe. (i describe it as sucking all the body out of the tone when both volume and tone are down a little, but anyway...)

all i'm suggesting is that the only reason the traditional arrangement had the cap on different tone pot lugs is to make room for the large caps used at the time. maybe it was just easier to offset the solder points, so when the cap went on the middle volume pot lug (important), the other end went on the counter-clockwise tone pot lug (not important).

my initial testing just involved switching the volume pot connection, and that was enough to entirely make the difference everyone is referring to.

Keyser Soze
01-28-2010, 09:33 AM
Actually, I just tested again with an A/B switch, and I didn't find that to be true. With the volume rolled down and the tone rolled off, I can get a nice, horny, woman tone with the modern wiring, but switching to the '50s configuration made the tone wimpy and anorexic. Raising the volume helped some, but at no point did the 50's wiring have the authority of the modern.


I'm not questioning your observations, but if the volume pot is not rolled all the way down you are not really at the 'bounds' of it's adjustment. The behavior of both circuits will again converge at the point where the volume pots are all the way down (ie. both will have no appreciable output.) Pedantic? Well, yes, sort of, with the caveat that what you are describing is the region where the two circuits tend to show the most divergence.

Just to be clear, the bounds of adjustment are: V&T both full up, and V&T both full down.

It helps to draw the two circuits out, and I apologize that I cannot do this better. But I'm gonna try this. (please ignore the dots, they're just there for spacing.)

MODERN

Input ------+-------------R2---+-----------------Output
................R1....................... R3
.................+........................ +
................C1...................... Gnd
.................+
...............Gnd


50's STYLE

Input ---------R2---+--------------+-------Output
...........................R3.................. R1
............................+................... +
..........................Gnd................. C1
.................................................. +
.................................................G nd


R1 = Variable resisitor (Tone pot)
C1 = Tone capacitor
R2+R3 = Volume pot (the values of each vary but must always add up to the total value of the volume pot)

The reason the 50's wiring seems so interactive is because R2 and R1 can add together to alter the roll off frequency of the tone circuit*. So that when R1 is set low adjustments of R2/R3 not only change volume, they also change frequency response. But also note that this is really only relevant when R1 is rolled down. As R1 is rolled down the additions of R2 become apparent, but when R1 is set high any additions of R2 tend to have negligible effect, especially because if R2 is high then we are already rolling off much volume.

The only time when 50's style wiring can significantly deviate electronically from modern wiring is when R1 (tone pot) is set high and R3 is set low (the volume is rolled down.) In such cases the total value of R1+R2 can exceed max value of R1 in the modern circuit. But if you run the values through the frequency rolloff calculator you begin to see that the actual frequency changes are rather small, especially in comparison to the total loss of output volume.

(also note that this means actual pot values do matter - eg 500k pots show less effect, and the effect becomes mroe pronounced as the actual pot values get smaller.)

* the formula is usually given as Freq = 1/ (2*pi*RC) where R is in ohms and C is in microfarads, but also note that this also assumes a low source impedance - meaning that the particulars of your pickup will alter the behavior, sometimes quite a bit.

Bussman
01-28-2010, 09:48 AM
...please ignore the dots, they're just there for spacing...

Fixed it for you:

MODERN

Input ------+-------------R2---+-----------------Output
R1 R3
| |
C1 Gnd
|
Gnd


50's STYLE

Input ---------R2---+--------------+-------Output
R3 R1
| |
Gnd C1
|
Gnd

mjm59
01-28-2010, 09:59 AM
Perhaps this video will be able to offer some definitive illustration to the theoretical discussion. I've actually read that Glen Kuykendall is a member here, although I don't know his user name, so if he has already contributed to this discussion, forgive me for seeming to speak on his behalf and being redundant. Aside from a great chance to hear a Trainwrech Express amplifier in action, in this recent video he also gives a demo on how the wiring on his genuine '59 Les Paul works/sounds. I hope this helps. If you wish to skip ahead to only the part about the wiring, it's at the 8:00 mark, but I think the whole video is pretty cool.

Mike

Uc3Xi6aAG80

Jef Bardsley
01-28-2010, 04:04 PM
I'm not questioning your observations, but if the volume pot is not rolled all the way down you are not really at the 'bounds' of it's adjustment. The behavior of both circuits will again converge at the point where the volume pots are all the way down (ie. both will have no appreciable output.) Pedantic? Well, yes, sort of, with the caveat that what you are describing is the region where the two circuits tend to show the most divergence.
Since, as you say, there's no output with the volume all the way down, we have to turn the volume way down and extrapolate. And with the volume way down and the tone on "0", the indication is that with the volume on "0", there would be a big difference if we could hear it. If the point of greatest divergence is just before they shut off, claiming they are the same when off is sort of begging the question, no? Mathematically speaking, I don't think shutting the guitar off is a catastrophe. ;)

Jef Bardsley
01-28-2010, 05:37 PM
:worthless

So, here you go:

http://home.townisp.com/%7Eyesrie/50-mod50.jpg

This was made with LTspice IV, following the model used by Terry Downs.

walterw
01-28-2010, 06:26 PM
MODERN

Input ------+-------------R2---+-----------------Output
................R1....................... R3
.................+........................ +
................C1...................... Gnd
.................+
...............Gnd


50's STYLE

Input ---------R2---+--------------+-------Output
...........................R3.................. R1
............................+................... +
..........................Gnd................. C1
.................................................. +
.................................................G nd


R1 = Variable resisitor (Tone pot)
C1 = Tone capacitor
R2+R3 = Volume pot (the values of each vary but must always add up to the total value of the volume pot)

The reason the 50's wiring seems so interactive is because R2 and R1 can add together to alter the roll off frequency of the tone circuit*.
wait, the typical gibson layout has the cap itself between the tone and volume pots. that means R1 is always isolated from R2 by the tone cap in either version.

EADGBE
01-29-2010, 04:44 PM
http://home.townisp.com/%7Eyesrie/50-mod50.jpg

This was made with LTspice IV, following the model used by Terry Downs.

So the volume actually gets louder with the modern wiring as you turn down? How can this be?

Tone_Terrific
01-29-2010, 09:00 PM
So the volume actually gets louder with the modern wiring as you turn down? How can this be?

I think the peak appears as you turn down but the overall level diminishes.:dunno

Jef Bardsley
01-29-2010, 09:34 PM
So the volume actually gets louder with the modern wiring as you turn down? How can this be?
Well, to really explain it takes a good grasp of resonant filters. Basically, the tone cap adds to the capacitance of the pickup and moves the resonance down in frequency. If you have modern wiring and turn the tone from '2' to '0', you will hear it get louder. The effect is more pronounced with lower value caps. Check out the charts Clorenzo posted here:
http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=165655

This effect demonstrates that tone controls are not simple RC filters. If they were, it wouldn't happen. Rather, a guitar's tone control is more of a 'reverse Zobel' filter. For high values of the tone pot the main effect is reducing the load on the pickup and damping its fundamental resonance. At the "Zobel value", around 75K, the inductance is canceled by the pot and cap and you see the normal roll off of a second order filter (not the first order roll off of an RC filter). Below that, the resonance once again appears, but this time it's centered on the frequency of the tone cap/pickup capacitance. Note also that the frequency of this resonance does not increase by an octave as the cap value is doubled, as would be predicted by the math for an RC filter.

LH_
01-29-2010, 10:09 PM
Speaking of Tone controls in 1950s wiring, does either Tone control act as a Master Tone control when playing in the middle switch position?

In 1950s wiring, both Tone controls appear to be in direct contact with the hot signal in the middle switch position.

walterw
01-29-2010, 10:36 PM
the pickups are in parallel, so yeah, either tone becomes a master tone in that situation with both schemes.

EADGBE
01-30-2010, 05:20 PM
Well, to really explain it takes a good grasp of resonant filters. Basically, the tone cap adds to the capacitance of the pickup and moves the resonance down in frequency. If you have modern wiring and turn the tone from '2' to '0', you will hear it get louder. The effect is more pronounced with lower value caps. Check out the charts Clorenzo posted here:
http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=165655

This effect demonstrates that tone controls are not simple RC filters. If they were, it wouldn't happen. Rather, a guitar's tone control is more of a 'reverse Zobel' filter. For high values of the tone pot the main effect is reducing the load on the pickup and damping its fundamental resonance. At the "Zobel value", around 75K, the inductance is canceled by the pot and cap and you see the normal roll off of a second order filter (not the first order roll off of an RC filter). Below that, the resonance once again appears, but this time it's centered on the frequency of the tone cap/pickup capacitance. Note also that the frequency of this resonance does not increase by an octave as the cap value is doubled, as would be predicted by the math for an RC filter.I actually do hear it get a little louder as I turn down the tone on one of my guitars with the modern wiring.

that_brianm_guy
01-30-2010, 05:44 PM
What I dislike about 50's wiring with audio pots is the volume control has a useful range from 8-10, and that's about it. Once the volume control is set lower than 8 the volume drops substantially.


You say that like it's a bad thing :)

I like that I can just nudge my volume control, and go from dirt to clean. As was stated earlier, "A Les Paul becomes a Telecaster" - and that's a good thing!

I was listening to live Led Zep today, and Page is constantly using those volume and tone controls...

But what I like most about 50's wiring is that while the changes to the volume are more obvious, the changes to the tone control are more subtle... and that's also a good thing. I don't have to worry about rolling my tone control back to 7.25863 to get the tone I want... the taper is much smoother and much more responsive.

The same with volume - nudge it down for clean, flip back up for lead.

50's wiring, and a good non-master volume amp.. tone for days! Sometimes I think the obsession with pedals comes from looking for the shades that used to be readily available at the roll of a knob...

JohnnyGtar
10-29-2010, 03:07 PM
I just rewired my guitar to the 50's wiring. The difference is night and day. No going back to the modern wiring scheme for me. YMMV.

walterw
10-29-2010, 04:22 PM
I just rewired my guitar to the 50's wiring. The difference is night and day. No going back to the modern wiring scheme for me. YMMV.
...aand we're back!

what kind of guitar, with what kind of pots?

while we're on the subject, it turns out that jazz basses and all three-knob gibsons use this wiring by default, because the (single) tone pot has to be after both volume pots.

JohnnyGtar
10-29-2010, 04:45 PM
...aand we're back!

what kind of guitar, with what kind of pots?

while we're on the subject, it turns out that jazz basses and all three-knob gibsons use this wiring by default, because the (single) tone pot has to be after both volume pots.

Walter: It's a Yamaha SBG 200. (Set neck mahogany guitar - Looks like an SG that needs to call Jenny Craig! LOL)

500K CTS pots all around. Carvin M22V w/.022 cap in neck, Duncan SH-5 with .047 in bridge. I only had 2 caps on hand, so that's what I used. BTW, the Carvin M22V pickup is definitely worth checking out.

Jef: I hear what I hear, and what I hear is that this wiring has made a huge difference in the way this guitar sounds compared to the modern wiring setup. YMMV. I can't play a Les Paul thru a Marshall and "hear" a vintage Martin acoustic no matter how much I "want" to.

DGDGBD
11-04-2010, 10:23 AM
So, does everybody agree that with both the tone and volume pots on 10, there should be no difference electronically and therefore performance-wise between the two wiring schemes? That is my take from looking at the two wiring diagrams, but I'm no expert or anything.

walterw
11-04-2010, 07:18 PM
i think that has to be the case.

harpinon
11-04-2010, 07:48 PM
I think the sound difference is not in the wiring but the pickups. I believe they are identical in resistance thus giving the neck a bit more BOOM. I had to lower mine a bit.

Jef Bardsley
11-05-2010, 07:10 AM
So, does everybody agree that with both the tone and volume pots on 10, there should be no difference electronically and therefore performance-wise between the two wiring schemes? That is my take from looking at the two wiring diagrams, but I'm no expert or anything.
Yep, you're reading it rightly. Since the difference is connecting to the input or wiper lug, and the input and wiper lug are touching when the pot's on "10", then there is no difference (unless maybe your wiper has resistive corrosion on the pad or some other unlikely occurrence beyond the expected).

IMUO, having tested this dozens of times, any differences heard are most likely the result of bad solder joints.


As a side-bar, what if the major companies made bad joints on a regular basis? :Devil How many aftermarket pickup and wiring change improvements might be, in reality, simply redoing the solder connections in the process of doing the mod?

slipperyfingers
02-06-2011, 08:39 AM
I recently purchased an LP style guitar with 50's wiring, and I'm headed down to the basement to undo it. I generally leave the tone on my neck pickup all the way up, and the tone on my bridge pickup somewhere just above the woman tone (not a big fan) and full up, but most of the time somewhere around 5-6. The thing I really don't like about the 50's wiring, as stated by others in this thread, is the lack of gradual adjustment of the volume controls...I just can't deal with it.

So put me in the "modern wiring preferred" camp.

-SF

TubeStack
02-06-2011, 08:50 AM
I prefer modern wiring, as well. I like the treble roll-off that happens when I lower the guitar's volume knob, and the accompanying treble increase when it's turned up. Marshall engineer Steve Dawson, over at the Marshall Vintage Modern forum, has stated that many 60s/70s guitarists depended on and utilized this aspect of modern wiring as an integral part of their tone.

StratTone
08-10-2011, 11:45 AM
This is what I find too. Actually what happens is that the two controls become much more interactive with the 50s scheme... which is probably why it was changed (from a purely technical point of view, that's a bad thing).

With the tone control up full, you do get a slightly brighter tone as you turn down the volume. This is because the resistance of the tone pot is fixed at 500K, and as you turn down the volume, the lower part of the volume pot track quickly becomes far less than this, which means that the tone pot is then seen as less of a load, proportionately.

But when the tone control is down a bit - and remember that '5' on a Log pot is one tenth of the resistance, not half, ie 50K on a 500K pot - now the tone control behaves more like an extra cap in parallel with the capacitance of the cable... which is what causes the treble loss as you turn down the volume in the first place.

At some point in between 10 and 5 on the two controls - and depending on the exact capacitance of the cable, which is almost always overlooked but is extremely important - the two effects more or less balance, but adjusting either control will change the tone.

So, if you usually leave your tone controls up full and dislike treble loss as you roll the volume down, you'll most likely want 50s wiring. If you use your tone control a lot, and want more independent operation of the two functions, you most likely want modern wiring.

I agree totally!! I like my les pauls for more of a bluesy thing and the 50s wiring is just the ticket for me. It pretty much made the difference of being able to play blues with a les paul and not! I can now jam with my les paul through some marshalls and roll it back for that perfect tone i was hearing in my head without it being to dull.

tzer0
03-25-2013, 01:40 AM
I bought a new Les Paul recently and it had the Modern wiring. It wasn't bad. In fact the effect was kind of cool. I can certainly understand the use of it. Especially with Modern Styles, shredding and all that. But it wasn't what I was looking for. And since I was going to switch out the pickups anyway, I decided to do a 50s wiring. One of the reasons was I wanted more control. Well, after I'd done all that I found out I had to do a 50's Independent Volume Wiring to get the control I was looking for.

So, I've tried them all -if accidentally. And I find the 50's wiring does have a more natural, old school sound. And I do prefer the Independent Controls on the guitar I changed that to, I would like a straight-up 50s wiring next time.

walterw
03-25-2013, 08:47 PM
hey, it's my old thread!

the independent wiring thing always bugged me because you compromise so much in the way of tone and pot taper for the minimal benefit of turning one pickup off with the knob and having the other stay on; it also allows some bleed, to where "off" isn't totally off with high gain.

Mark Kane
03-26-2013, 01:55 PM
the one cool thing you get with the modern wiring that you don't get with the '50's style is this. With modern wiring you can put the switch in the middle position, treble volume and tone on 10, neck volume turned down to around 8(just when you hear the tone get noticeably brighter) and then neck tone control all the way off or almost. It's a killer honky tone but not all the way woman tone. Fat but still bright.

Eagle1
03-27-2013, 12:24 AM
Series or parralel tone does make a difference to my ears .

kidmo
03-27-2013, 07:28 AM
"50's" les paul wiring debunked?

No, not yet. And why would you want to? May as well say old wood makes no difference. Don't fight tradition.:dude

la noise
06-30-2013, 10:00 PM
I read this whole thread and am more confused than ever about this topic. Where's the resolution??? :)

walterw
06-30-2013, 10:16 PM
"resolution"?

'50s wiring does just what everybody says, i misinterpreted my initial test results. (i learned a lot between then and now, not least that 50's is incorrect, it's '50s.)

with the '50s, turning down the volume a little changes the tone control, to where the tone knob also acts like a volume, only acting like a tone towards the bottom of its range.

put another way, turning down the tone a little changes the volume, to where the volume knob drops off way faster from "10", kind of scooping out more midrange in the process.

hated it.

Lolaviola
07-03-2013, 03:19 PM
I believe that the only way you would think '50s wiring was awesome is if you leave both tones on ten all the time.

walterw
07-03-2013, 08:10 PM
I believe that the only way you would think '50s wiring was awesome is if you leave both tones on ten all the time.
which with 500k tones would mean no real difference anyway.